Friday, June 29, 2007

Hybrid Golf is Still Five Years Away for the US

Looks like the new Volkswagen Golf will be out as a 2009 model. Too bad it won't be in the US until 2012. The 2009 model will most likely come with a BlueMotion diesel or hybrid powertrain.

Follow the source for a grainy shot of the Golfs new rear end. Supposedly, the front end is also being redone with a narrow, four bar, front grille.

2009 Volkswagen Golf - Spied Vehicles - Motor Trend
Early intel suggests the new Golf will be readied by late next year and will likely be a 2009 model. Given the push by VW in the U.S. to sell cars under $15,000, we'll probably have to wait until as late as the 2012 model year before we see a version of it, but expect a facelift of the present U.S. car shortly after the new Golf hits European streets.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

Thursday, June 28, 2007

House Takes Up the Energy Bill

The House has started working on their version of the Energy Bill passed by the Senate last week. A number of new provisions have been added to upgrade the efficiency of electrical items ranging from dishwashers to the national grid.

The House bill, in its current version, sets grants for alternative fuels, including E85, biodiesel and plug-in hybrids. There is also a loan guarantee program for the production of advanced batteries.

But the bill is a long way from being finished. It will likely take another month for the House to pass their version. And then the Senate and House will need to get together and work out their differences.

Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said there would be a chance to raise fuel economy in committee, on the House floor next month or when House and Senate lawmakers meet to craft a final bill later this summer. Source: U.S. House Democrats vow to press auto fuel economy - Automotive News (reg req'd)
But even if Congress passes the bill with fuel economy standards raised, Bush is already threatening to veto it. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman specifically cited the standards when he said Bush would likely veto the bill as it currently stands. Bodman was also critical of:

  • Taking too long to reach a goal of producing 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel each year.
  • Allowing for antitrust litigation against the international oil cartel.
  • Providing penalties for oil companies that commit “price gouging.”

  • In other words, the raising of the CAFE standards have a long way to go.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    The New Dedicate Hybrid From Lexus?

    A few days ago, there was a report of a new dedicated hybrid coming from Toyota in 2009. The new hybrid would have a larger engine than that of the Prius, but would not have a conventional gas-only version.

    But, the new hybrid may not be a Toyota. Steve Settle, head of Lexus UK, says the new model will be roomier than the IS and expects it to cost between €30,000 and €51,000. It is still unnamed, but it will be sold in Japan and in Europe. But still no word about North America.

    Source: Lexus plans a hybrid-only car - Automotive News Europe

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Top 25 Cars and Trucks That Had an Impact

    The USAToday put together the top 25 cars and trucks that have had an impact. Number 3 on the USAToday list of the the Top 25 Cars and Trucks That Had an Impact was the Toyota Prius.

    3. 2001 Toyota Prius Too weird, critics said, when it hit U.S. shores in summer 2000. Who'll gamble on an odd-looking sedan with a preposterous gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain? Just 400,000 U.S. buyers so far, who love the 40- plus mpg.

    Perhaps the Honda Insight should get an honorable mention in that description. While it's obvious the Prius was the clear winner in the battle between the two, it was the Insights phenomenal mpg rating that turned people onto hybrids in the first place.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Why Assume Hybrid Means EcoNut?

    So, I was searching for mention of hybrid cars and I came across a post that had the following points to make about the 'lousy implementation' of hybrids.

    • They’re frighteningly expensive, especially considering what you get for your money
    • They usually have HYBRID in 40-inch letters on the side and the back so that you can show everyone else on the road how much you care about the environment and how much they don’t
    • They’re all uglier than Quasimodo with a bad case of bed-head, so even those who can’t read the 40-inch letters know what they’re seeing

    Then the writer went on to mention the Dust-to-Dust study, which I think is garbage science. So, I posted the following:
    Hybrid cars are not really more expensive than any other car. They are a few thousand more than the conventional car they are built off of, but you make up the difference in cost in gasoline savings. It takes anywhere from a year to 5 years to do it, but it does happen.

    The Hybrid badging is important to safety personnel, if nothing else. They need to know what type of car they are dealing with in case of an emergency. And why not trumpet what type of car you are driving? You think people who drive Land Rovers or convertibles aren't looking for some attention? Why not be proud of your car?

    And as for your third point, if you don't like the looks of a Prius, there's the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Nissan Altima Hybrid, there are two Lexus: 450h and 400h, the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Mariner Hybrid, the Civic Hybrid and the Accord Hybrid. Are they all ugly cars in your opinion? If so, what type of car are you looking for?

    And as for the CNW Marketing Dust - to - Dust study that article is based on, its all garbage. Please don't reference it. Even they backed off on the claims they made. As an example, they saidthe Prius would last 100,000 miles, while the Hummer will last 300,000 miles. Do you really think a Toyota car will last just 100,000 miles?
    For my trouble, I got the following snarky comment back:
    OK, I'm in a dilemna. So I'll let the readers decide. Al Gore's cousin wrote a rather lengthy talking-points "refutation" of my post. Should I approve the comment and then mock him, or just deny it?
    Now, I did not mention environmentalism at all or the low emissions of hybrids. So what's with the Al Gore comment? While I could have provided references for my comments, it usually isn't worth it in a comments section to do so. I was annoyed by what seemed to me to be a childish response and, to be honest, the 'refutation' comment. So I left a snarky message in reply:
    Either method would be easier for you than truly debating the topic. But hey, it's your site.
    I was hoping he would rise to the challenge and have a real conversation about hybrid cars. But instead, I was banned from making comments. Once again, he assumed I was an environmental nut.
    Well, the only comment that I got back was a snarky one from Al’s cousin, who is under the mistaken impression that I wish to debate the religion of environmentalism.
    And I thought blogs were great for creating conversations. I thought that was the whole point of blogs.

    Well, if he had chosen to talk to me about it, I would have pointed out he was assuming I wanted to talk about environmental issues, while I hadn't talked about them at all. I would have preferred to talk about our addiction to oil. I would have, once again, talked about how you can save money in the long run by driving a hybrid car. I would have talked about how republicans should love hybrid cars.

    But I wasn't given a chance to.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    A New Dedicated Hybrid From Toyota?

    The Nikkei is reporting Toyota will offer another dedicated hybrid car in 2009. Currently, the only dedicated hybrid on the road is the Prius. All other models have a hybrid option.

    The new model is already being developed with a 2 to 3-litre engine. According to the Nikkei, it will likely be manufactured at the Miyata plant on Japan's southern island of Kyushu.

    Honda had sold a dedicated hybrid, the Insight, until it was retired last year. The Insight was a two-seater and wasn't a practical choice for most buyers, despite its phenomenal fuel economy. Honda has promised a new dedicated hybrid.

    Toyota is expecting to sell 100,000 of the new dedicated hybrid around the world.

    Some analysts have claimed that some of the success of the Prius comes by not having a direct comparison. A hybrid vehicle can cost several thousand dollars more than its conventional counterpart, which may make some buyers reluctant to buy the hybrid version of the car.

    Although, recent analysis has shown hybrid cars will save you money over time.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    CAFE Standards in the Senate

    CAFE IncreasesDespite an up and down week on the floor of the Senate, a new standard on fuel economy may have been set by the Senate.

    The Senate ended debate (62-32) and approved the energy bill (65-27) sometime around midnight on the 21st. The bill sets a new combined fuel economy average of 35 mpg by 2020 for fleet-wide sales. It also closes the gap between trucks (and SUVs) and cars by combining the mpg standard which currently stands at 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and small trucks..

    "It closes the SUV loophole," declared Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "This is a victory for the American public."

    Regulators could void the 35 mpg standard in 2020 if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that it is not cost-effective, Feinstein said.

    The energy bill also requires automakers make half of their vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol by 2015.

    Automakers were clearly not the winners in this debate, but they did not lose on everything. One requirement, which would have increased the CAFE standards 4 percent each year after 2020 for the next decade was removed. Automakers had pointed out that would mean they would have to make vehicles with fleet-wide average of 52 mpg by 2030.

    Also, the $32 billion package of tax incentives on alternative fuels and new tax credits on plug-in hybrid vehicles were also removed. The tax incentives would have been payed, in part, by a $29 billion dollar tax on oil companies over the next ten years.

    The $700 million in tax credits for plug-in hybrids would have gone to those who converted their hybrids into plug-ins or those who bought new vehicles.

    The Auto Alliance has clearly not given up hope on blocking the legislation as it moves on to the House of Representatives.

    President Bush is also said to be against the new standards. He would prefer more power be given to the Dept of Transportation and that no specific mileage numbers be set.

    Read more about the bill passing: AutoNews (reg require), AP at Yahoo, and CNN.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    How Much Gas Have Hybrids Saved?

    According to a recent report from National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), hybrids have saved the country 5.5 million barrels of oil since they were introduced in 1999. Unfortunately, the US net imports of oil in 2003 were 11.24 million barrels per day, and 8.55 million barrels per day went to light duty vehicle use.

    Hybrid sales keep increasing, though. It seems like each month, their market share increases.

    I wonder how they calculated that savings? Did they compare hybrid mpg vs the average mpg use or did they compare the Toyota Prius against the Corolla and the Civic Hybrid against the Civic? It's hard to guess at what the other car a buyer would have gotten instead of a hybrid.

    The Green Wombat had this to say

    Of course, that impact would be magnified if General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and other U.S. automakers focused less on creating hybrid versions of monster SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and more on developing small and mid-sized hybrids. Or all-electric cars, for that matter.

    But that's kind of foolish. As my post on how much more you save on the lower part of the fuel economy scale points out, increases of fuel economy on those gas hogs make a bigger difference than at the upper end of the scale.

    Update: according to the physorg writeup:
    The conventional vehicles selected were models by the same manufacturer that most closely matched the hybrid electric vehicles in terms of size, weight and performance.

    I'm not sure that's a fair assessment of what these drivers would have done in the absence of hybrid cars. The early adopters may have been taken in by the automaker, but I doubt it. The appeal of a hybrid was either the technology or the fuel economy.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Why Lithium-Ion Batteries?

    Current hybrid car batteries are made from nickel metal hydride batteries(NiMH), but carmakers are saying the next generation of hybrid batteries will be made from lithium-ion(Li-Ion). They also say the next step in hybrid cars will be plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) that can be plugged in overnight and can run on electric power alone (i.e. off the battery pack) for up to 40 miles at a time.

    Why Switch to Li-Ion Batteries?

    But why do they need to switch? There are several reasons:

    • Weight
    • Cost
    • Performance
    Nickel-metal hydride battery packs are already quite large. To power on battery power alone for up to 40 miles, the battery pack would need to get a lot bigger. To give you an idea, current hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) with NiMH battery packs can run on the battery for about a mile before the battery needs to be recharged by the gas engine.

    A Li-ion battery weighs about half as much as a NiMH battery. That can add up to big fuel economy gains for a hybrid car. Weight can be more telling on a mpg rating than almost any other factor thrown into a car.

    Cost is also a big factor. Nickel futures on the London Metal Exchange is over $36,000 a ton. That's down from a high of $51,800 in May. Lithium has risen to about $8,000 a ton in March. That number will climb once hybrid cars start using Li-Ion batteries in large batches, but for now that's quite a difference in price.

    Lithium is also abundant in Chile (currently the main supplier), North America and Russia. And, according to stories I've seen, there's still some unexploited regions with plenty of reserves.

    Why haven't they switched, yet?

    So, given Li-Ion batteries are more powerful, weigh less and are cheaper to build, why haven't they started building them, yet?

    Lithium-ion batteries are currently found in smaller packs in laptops and cell phones. But researchers at big and small battery companies are still researching the most reliable, and more importantly, the safest way to put several batteries together to make a large enough battery pack to power a hybrid car. You've heard about how Sony had to recall some laptops for combusting, right? Now imagine that happening in a hybrid car.

    What about lead?

    It's good enough for my gas car, why isn't it good enough for a hybrid?

    Lead seems to be out of the running. The heaviest of the three choices, it seems to be eliminated from the running before it has even gotten started.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Nissan Will Follow the Market to Hybrids or Diesels

    The hybrid and new clean diesel technologies are pitted "head to head" in the United States and "it is going to be interesting to see how the market reacts," Ghosn told reporters after a Nissan shareholders meeting.

    "When you go to the market, the decisions are going to be in function of the customers' reaction to the two technologies. Frankly, it is not obvious today," he said.

    The head of the two auto giants said Renault and Nissan were working with both hybrid and diesel technology but will produce cars according to consumer demand. "When the market will shift, we will follow."

    What is obvious to me is this is how and why the company will always be behind the curve. There's a time and place for conservatism, but Ghosn seems to take this to the extreme.

    When hybrids come to mind, the Prius is first and foremost in everyones thoughts. The reason being, it was one of the first, and it still gets one of the best fuel economy ratings. On the back of their hybrid sales, Toyota has propelled itself into the top tier of automakers worldwide.

    The Nissan Altima, on the other hand, has just come to market. It is built using Toyota technology. It is being sold in only eight states. Nissan is hoping to have their own hybrid engine by 2010.

    As Ghosn said, they will follow. It seems Nissan will always be a follower.

    Source of quote: The Peninsula On-line: Qatar's leading English Daily

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Hybrid Taxi Cabs Arrive in Chicago

    Chicago jumps on the hybrid taxi bandwagon, putting its first Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi on the road. San Francisco and New York already have hybrid taxis running in great numbers. New York plans to switch to all hybrid taxis in the next decade.

    In Chicago, a city rule was put into effect on July 1st. It requires taxicab owners to license one hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle if they have 50 taxicabs on the road.

    Cab drivers usually have to pay for the gas, so they love driving more fuel efficient vehicles. But its the taxi companys that need to purchase the vehicles in the first place. They need to be convinced of the cabs reliability and/or convinced of its environmental benefits.

    Source: Cab firm adds city's first fleet-based hybrid taxi :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    2008 Highlander Hybrid Available in September

    Pricing for the 2008 Highlander were announced today. Ranging from $27,300 (Base 4x2 model) to $34,150 (Base Limited 4x4). Increase range (per model) from 1.9% to 6.1% from the previous generation. The deliver, processing and handling fee has also increased by $40 to $685.
    Pricing for the 2008 Hybrid Highlander have not been announced.

    The new gas models will go on sale in July, while the hybrid model won't be available until September.

    Toyota Announces Prices for All-New 2008 Highlander
    The 2008 Highlander Base grade will carry a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $27,300 for the 4x2 model, an increase of $510, or 1.9 percent over the previous generation Highlander. The Base grade 4x4 will carry a base MSRP of $28,750, an increase of $560 or 2.0 percent.

    The base MSRP for the Sport grade will carry a base of $29,950 for the 4x2, an increase of $985, or 3.4 percent. The Sport grade 4x4 will carry a base MSRP of $31,400, an increase of $965, or 3.2 percent.

    The MSRP for the top-of-the-line Highlander Limited will be $32,700 for the 4x2, an increase of $1,890 or 6.1 percent. The Limited 4x4 will carry a base MSRP of $34,150, an increase of $1,940 or 6.0 percent.

    Pricing for hybrid models will be announced closer to launch.

    The delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee for the 2008 Highlander
    was increased by $40 to $685. DPH fee for vehicles distributed by Southeast
    Toyota (SET) and Gulf States Toyota (GST) may vary.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Fed Says HOV Lanes are too Clogged

    California TrafficPrior to 2005, California never had to worry about Federal interference with their HOV lanes. But by allowing hybrid cars sol access into the HOV lanes in late 2005, California became subject to the Federal Transportation Act. And since minimum speeds are dropping below 45 mph more than 10 percent of the time the Federal Highway Transportation has informed the California Dept of Transportation they are out of compliance.

    The California Transportation officials are currently looking into several strategies for dealing with the issues. These include:

    • Adjusting hours for car-pool requirements,
    • allowing continuous access,
    • limiting hybrid access on congested freeways,
    • and stepping up CHiPs enforcement.
    Officials hope to have a strategy by late August.

    According to Tamie McGowen, a Caltrans spokeswoman in Sacramento, hybrids are not to blame for the congestion.

    "The increasing population is a huge factor in this," she said. "And the bottom line is that the number of vehicle miles traveled is increasing faster than the population."

    Source: State tries to free up car-pool lanes - North County Times

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Google Promotes Plug-In Hybrid Technology

    Google announced their new project funding plug-in hybrid technology through their project yesterday. They awarded over $1 million in grants and are looking to give away $10 million to "fund development, adoption, and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology." is a for-profit charity seeded with $1 billion in initial capital. One of their maiden projects was to consult with hybrid technology companies and engineers in an effort to encourage the next generation of hybrid technoloyg, i.e. plug-in hybrids.

    As part of their announcement/celebration, Google worked in conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric to demonstrate the V2G technology possible with plug-in hybrid cars in the (see more on how V2G works).

    There were six grants awarded on Monday of $100,000 to $200,000 each for a total of $1.05 million.

    Grants: announced grants to the following organizations:

    • Brookings Institution ( $200,000 to support a spring 2008 conference on federal policy to promote plug-ins;
    • CalCars ( $200,000 to support its work to educate the public about plug-ins;
    • Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) ( ): $200,000 to support its plug-in research and development program;
    • Plug-In America ( $100,000 to raise public awareness and advocate for plug-in transportation;
    • Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) ( $200,000 to enable RMI to launch the design of a practical plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, with additional support and collaboration by Alcoa, Johnson Controls, and the Turner Foundation;
    • Dr. Willett Kempton, University of Delaware ( $150,000 for megawatt scale vehicle-to-grid research and implementation planning.
    Request for Proposals (RFPs) will be accepted through the website this summer. They hope to "invest approximately $10 million in technologies and companies featuring plug-in hybrids, fully electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid capabilities, batteries and other storage technologies, and the application of renewable energy and fuels to green vehicles."

    Google is also looking demonstrate plug-in technology through a small fleet of converted hybrid cars using A123Systems/Hymotion. The experimental fleet has averaged 74 mpg, while the unconverted models have attained 41 mpg, so far.

    Press release from Google
    A more personal viewpoint of the demonstration/celebration from hybridcars.
    A look at the difficulties plug-in hybrid cars face from USAToday
    Google offers cash back to employees who purchase hybrid cars, as do Timberland and Bank of America.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Prius Trade-Ins Come From All Over

    According to PIN Insights (pdf), published by Power Information Network, a division of J.D. Power and Associates, May and early June data show people trading in for a Prius are coming from across all lines.

    The percentage of new buyers who are trading in a compact and/or an old Prius has decline significantly, indicating the record number of buyers are coming from other car segments. The number of different models has doubled from January to May. Meanwhile, non-Toyota trade-ins have risen almost 80% in early June.

    It seems high gas prices and increased sales incentives have led people from all walks of life into the Toyota showroom and out the door with a new Prius.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Toyota Delays Next Generation Prius Over Battery Problems

    Toyota has decided to delay the launch of the highly anticipated next generation Prius until the spring of 2009. Toyota has been question the safety of the new lithium-ion batteries originally proposed to power the electric engine in the gas-electric hybrid.

    The next generation Prius was anticipated to boost the fuel economy up to a possible 90 mpg, but that would only be possible with the new batteries.

    Recent reports have said Toyota was worried about the reliability and safety of the new batteries and had even suggested the new Prius would originally use the nickel-metal hydride batteries they come with new.

    A Toyota spokesman declined to confirm the delay of the Prius launch, saying it was not possible to move back a plan whose timing had not been set.

    "Our policy is to roll out any model when all the conditions are in place," he said.

    Source: Reuters through Autonews (Reg Required)

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Drivers Are Willing to Save Money on Gas

    Kelley Blue Books latest survey shows how drivers are looking to save money on gas by maintaining their cars better than they do now.

    • Nearly 60 percent would change their filters at scheduled intervals and/or check their tire pressure regularly.
    • If they performed these measures, 68 percent believe they would save up to $200 annually.
    "Gas prices have reached levels that are causing consumers to take steps they may not have when pump prices were more moderate to improve fuel economy and save a few dollars," said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's "If these consumers actually perform all of these gas saving tips, it's likely they could save up to 15 or 20 percent of their entire fuel costs annually."

    But not everyone was willing to do everything. Only:
    • 23 percent were willing to reduce A/C use;
    • 17 percent were willing to clean their fuel injector;
    • 5 percent would use a fuel additive in each fill-up to increase engine performance;
    • 26 percent would employ all of these tips to improve fuel economy or save money;
    • and 5 percent said they would not do any of the above.

    Kelley Blue Books Survey seems to be indicating the same trends in buying patterns we're seeing right now:
    • 69 percent are likely to change to a more fuel efficient car
    • 22 percent would buy a hybrid
    • 21 percent would take it a size down
    • 14 percent would buy a car with a smaller engine with less power
    • 12 percent would buy a diesel
    • 31 percent would not change at all.

    The following table deliberately excludes the Toyota Prius because "the Prius doesn't necessarily fit every lifestyle".

    Kelley Blue Book's Editors' Top Picks for Best Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

    Category Vehicle
    (City/Highway*) Editorial Staff Comments
    Small Sedan Honda Civic Hybrid (40/45) The Honda Civic Hybrid is the Prius alternative with more mainstream styling, if not all the fuel economy.
    Mids-Size Sedan Nissan Altima Hybrid (35/33) Beneath its sporty-sedan sheet metal, Nissan's Altima Hybrid uses licensed Toyota hybrid technology.
    Luxury Sedan Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec (23/32) Powered by a state-of-the-art clean diesel engine, the Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec is as powerful and smooth as you'd expect anything wearing a three-pointed star to be.
    Compact Pickup Toyota Tacoma (20/26) The Toyota Tacoma's bulletproof reputation for reliability is backed up by some of the category's best fuel economy.
    Full-Size Pickup Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra (15/20) GM's excellent new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are just about the most fuel-efficient full-size pickups out there.
    Coupe Audi TT (23/31) The 2008 Audi TT deftly maximizes turbo power and efficiency in one fun and fuel-frugal coupe.
    Small SUV Ford Escape Hybrid (31/30) Revamped for 2008, the Ford Escape Hybrid combines excellent mileage with versatility.
    Mid-Size SUV Toyota Highlander Hybrid (28/25) The Highlander Hybrid is Toyota's only hybrid SUV, and the only one to boast a lineage that includes the revolutionary Prius.
    Large SUV GMC Acadia (16/24) With more total cargo volume than the brand's own Yukon, the three-row GMC Acadia delivers everything most families require from a traditional full-size SUV but with significantly better mileage.
    Convertible Mazda MX-5 (22/27) Some of the same characteristics that make the small and lightweight Mazda MX-5 one of the purest driver's cars of all time help make it a joy at the gas pump, too.
    Minivan Honda Odyssey (17/24) What some consider the best minivan available, the Honda Odyssey, also delivers the best mileage. Under light loads, the Odyssey can cruise on just three of its six cylinders.
    Hatchback MINI Cooper (27/36) A secret weapon in the fight against fuel prices, the extremely fun MINI Cooper delivers highway mileage of up to 36 mpg.
    Wagon Toyota Matrix/ Pontiac Vibe (26/33) The Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe cousins are small but tall wagons that have been delivering outstanding fuel economy since the 2003 model year
    * (Note: All fuel economy figures reflect the new-for-2008 model year guidelines, per

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Hyundai Promises 2009 Hybrid Elantra (Avante)

    Hyundai is looking to release the Avante Hybrid (Elantra is the North American counterpart) in 2009, but only in Korea. It will by hybrid LPG-electric rather than a hybird gas-electric.

    Since liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is cheaper and more readily available in Korea. But they also indicated they expected a gas-electric hybrid to be ready by 2010.

    Hyundai has produced the Click Hybrid and Verna Hybrid, but only for testing purposes and only for the Korean government. Production will halt on their limited production.

    Hyundai started developing their hybrids with LS Group and LG Chem back in December of 2005.

    Currently, only the Lexus RX 400h and Honda Civic Hybrid are available in the Korean marketplace.

    Source: Hyundai Plans Elantra Hybrid in 2009
    In May, the Korean government said it would begin granting tax incentives that could lower the price of both foreign and domestic hybrid vehicles by more than 10 percent.

    Hyundai said it could be building up to 300,000 hybrids a year by 2015.

    What this means to you: Hyundai still isn't saying when it will begin selling hybrids in North America.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Enterprise, Hertz and Avis to Offer Hybrids for Rent

    Renting a hybrid car just got a little easier. Enterprise announced last week they will be offering 3,000 hybrids in the US. Hertz and Avis quickly followed up with their own announcements this week matching their numbers.

    Enterprise says their fleet of cars includes 3,000 hybrids.

    Hertz announced they will soon have 1,000 Toyota Prius, mostly at 50 big airport locations and in Manhattan. They expect to have 2,000 by the end of the year and 4,3000 by the middle of next year.

    Avis also announced they will have 1,000 Toyota Prius by the end of the month. Their new hybrid cars will be available in California, D.C., Portland and Seattle.

    Both are guaranteeing hybrid reservations.

    Hertz says to rent a hybrid will cost $5 to $10 more per day.

    Source: USA Today

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Hybrid Car Fuel Economy

    When people talk about hybrid cars, the conversation almost always turns to fuel economy.

    1. Do hybrid cars get better fuel economy?
    2. Are they worth the extra cost?
    3. What about those EPA numbers, are they accurate?
    Our president talks constantly about our addiction to foreign oil. Congress is working on new legislation to increase fleet wide fuel efficiency. And everybody seems to be talking about high gas prices are.

    Hybrid Car Fuel Economy Answers
    The answers are simple.
    1. Yes, hybrid cars do get better fuel economy in general than most normal cars. In fact, according to, they are the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road.
    2. And yes, they are worth the premium you need to pay mostly because you will save money on fuel.
    3. The EPA numbers are not correct for hybrid cars. But then, they aren't correct for any cars.
    For more information, keep reading below.

    Hybrid Car Sales and Fuel Economy
    Hybrid car sales live and die by their fuel economy numbers. The Toyota Prius is the number one hybrid because it has the highest numbers out today. The 2008 model has a real world EPA rating of 48 city/ 45 highway. That makes it the most fuel efficient car on the road today.

    The Ford Escape Hybrid is the most fuel efficient SUV on the road today, with a 31 city/ 29 highway rating from the EPA. That gives it one of the highest ratings of any car on the road today.

    2007 Model Year Overall Fuel Economy Leaders

    Rank Manufacturer/Model city/highway

    1. Toyota Prius (hybrid-electric) 60/51*
    2. Honda Civic Hybrid 49/51
    3. Toyota Camry Hybrid 40/38
    4. Ford Escape Hybrid FWD 36/31
    5. Toyota Yaris (manual) 34/40
    6. Toyota Yaris (automatic) 34/39
    7. Honda Fit (manual) 33/38
    8. Toyota Corolla (manual) 32/41
    9. Hyundai Accent (manual) 32/35,
      Kia Rio (manual) 32/35
    10. Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD 32/29,
      Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD 32/29
    * Note the Prius numbers dropped from 2007 to 2008 because of the changes in the EPA ratings system. The EPA went to a 'real world' rating system for fuel economy.

    But just being a hybrid is not enough. The Honda Accord Hybrid was recently set to retire by Honda because of low sales. The Accord Hybrid was built to improve performance, not fuel economy, and was set for failure ever since. The Honda Insight, despite its record fuel economy numbers, was also retired on low sales. Being a two-seater, it just wasn't a practical choice for many.

    Hybrid Cars Are Greener
    But being a hybrid can be good in other ways. The Honda Civic Hybrid, the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the Ford Escape Hybrid are the top four greenest cars.

    Hybrid Cars Are Economically Sound
    While more fuel economic vehicles may be on the way, for right now hybrid cars are the most economical choices. A recent study by Intellichoice showed all hybrids would save their owners money in the long run. Most of those savings come from their high fuel economy numbers, but the federal tax credits, high resale value, and equivalent maintenance and repair bills all add up to the plus side for hybrid cars. Even mild hybrids such as those produced by GM (Saturn Vue Hybrid, for example) were shown to break even.

    Our addiction to oil may not be broken by hybrid cars, but until those cars that run on hydrogen come along, they are certainly helping with their high fuel economy.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Bosch Set to Build Hybrid Diesel for European Carmaker

    Bosch, the world's largest auto parts supplier, have a contract to supply parts for a diesel hybrid to a European automaker. They will supply the electronic controller for the diesel engine, and the electric motor and its controller.

    But which automaker and what type of hybrid is a bit of a mystery. Will it be a full hybrid, i.e. Toyota Prius, or a mild hybrid, as in the current Saturn Vue Greenline.

    According to automakers, a diesel hybrid engine has been too expensive to build. But recent pressure from European governments to limit CO2 emissions must be changing minds in European boardrooms.

    The new diesel hybrid engine will be on the road by 2010. And according to Rold Leonhard, Bosch's executive vice president of engineering for diesel systems, "It would be the benchmark in fuel consumption achieving CO2 emissions below 100 grams per kilometer."

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Hybrid Cars Get Free Parking in Manitou Springs

    As with other cities out west, Manitou Springs has begun offering free parking to anyone driving a hybrid car.

    They join Aspen; Los Angeles; Salt Lake City; San Antonio; Albuquerque; New Haven, Conn.; San Jose; and Santa Monica, Calif. as cities offering this bonus to anyone driving a hybrid vehicle.

    Cities and towns offer this perk as an added incentive to those willing to pay the extra money for a hybrid car. In this way, they hope to encourage lower emissions vehicles.

    I wonder why they don't look to limit this type of incentive to those vehicles with the lowest emissions. Not all hybrid cars are low emissions, although they are low for their vehicle type. I suppose it's easier to look for a hybrid badge, rather than investigate each cars particulars.


    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Ford has More Hybrids on the Way

    Of course, there's no mention of when that will be.

    Ford has "more full hybrids coming," Nancy Gioia, head of the hybrid and sustainable vehicle programs, told a conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on emerging auto engine technologies.

    Gioia said Ford was looking into plug-in hybrid vehicles, but there were several issues to work out. The size of the battery pack would have to double or triple in size, making them costly and heavy.

    Source: Reuters

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    5 Reasons You Didn't Get the Rating You Were Promised

    It's a common issue with new hybrid car owners. They expect to get the high fuel economy they were promised by the EPA right out of the box. Many even feel like they have been cheated somehow. I mean, didn't they buy a hybrid for the high MPG rating on the sticker?

    For instance: CommuterPageBlog: Our new hybrid - an update

    However, the most important feature, fuel economy, has been a big disappointment. We've averaged only about 31 miles per gallon--no better than lots of economy vehicles that are not hybrids.
    There are at least 5 reasons why you shouldn't expect to hit that number, at least right away.
    1. EPA MPG ratings are flawed
    2. What's the temperature like?
    3. The engine needs to be 'broken in.'
    4. Bad habits die hard
    5. You don't have to accelerate like your granny
    EPA Ratings Are Flawed
    First of all, the EPA MPG rating system is flawed. It is currently being updated and new 'real world' figures will be ready for the model 2008 year. In the meantime, if you bought a 2007 or earlier hybrid car, your EPA ratings are based on idealized conditions. For instance, the EPA assumed you would be driving without an air conditioner.

    For this reason, everyone who buys a new car should expect to get lower fuel economy than what they saw on the sticker. Most people realize this but for some reason we think it should be different for hybrids.

    What's the temperature outside?
    Your fuel economy depends greatly on the current weather conditions, believe it or not. It has, partly, to due with the time it takes your engine to heat up to optimum levels. When you first start your car up, you should be getting the worst fuel economy you will see for the day. So, if you are taking short trips, your mpg will be lower than you expected since your engine never quite warmed up.

    Because of that, your fuel economy will be much higher in the summer than the winter. If you keep track of your gas receipts, plot out your mpg over the year. You'll see a nice curve upwards during the summer months. If you use your air conditioner or roll down your windows, it won't go as high as it could, but that's up to you.

    The engine needs to be 'broken in'
    Just like that new car smell, your engine needs to be aired out. After a few months, you will see a marked improvement in fuel economy, usually just after you change the oil for the first time. I'm not a mechanic, so I can't explain this one. But talk about this issue on any discussion board on hybrid cars and you'll see the same comment time after time.

    Of course, another possibility is it's not the car that needs to be broken in, it might just be the driver.

    Bad habits die hard
    Let's face it. You've probably never worried too much about your mpg before now. So, you may be an aggressive driver with bad habits to break. It takes time to re-learn how to drive. Pay attention to the mpg readings (if you have one) and pay attention to what makes that number climb.

    For instance, your mpg rating starts dropping dramatically as you get over the speed limit on the highway. Pay attention to the reading and you'll probably start slowing down.

    Also, don't coast to a stop. Gently apply the brakes to get the most out of your regenerative braking. If you don't use regenerative braking to recharge your batteries, the gas engine does. And you can guess what that does to your gas gauge.

    Pretty soon you'll be looking to repeat the good actions. Then they'll become habits. It takes time, but eventually you can retrain yourself.

    Which brings up my last point.

    Don't Accelerate Like Your Granny
    For some reason, people always assume that if they just accelerated at the slowest rate possible, then they'll get the best fuel economy rating. It just isn't true. Most likely, you're ruining your mpg.

    Your engine is designed to be most efficient at higher speeds. From 0-10, you're getting a horrible return on your gas usage. Speed up at a brisk pace (don't jack rabbit!) and you'll get out of that bad area. This is also true for full hybrids. So get out of granny mode and drive.

    As for the quote above, the new hybrid car owner from commuterpageblog blames his low numbers on his short drives. Short, 3 mile trips aren't going to get you out of the engine warm up stage. I would bet, however, that this isn't the end of the story. If he continues to pay attention to what he's getting, his numbers will improve even on these short trips.

    Follow the links if you're looking for fuel economy tips or perhaps you have heard stories about hypermilers and want to start hypermiling yourself.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Toyota Backs Off on Hybrid Promise

    Toyota is backing off on its promise to have a hybrid engine in every car in its lineup by 2010. According to Mira Sleilati, spokeswoman at Toyota, "The right car, at the right place, at the right time, in accordance with energy trends."

    Instead, they will be looking to have twice as many models with hybrid technology. That would put hybrids in only 12 of their 35 vehicles, and that only in the early 2010s. They are also pushing back their sales goal of 1 million hybrids a year into the early 2010s.

    Source:Journal and Courier Online

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Hybrid Car Insurance Discount Available in Pennsylvania

    Hybrid Car owners may want to switch insurance companies. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has approved the following companies to offer a discount to hybrid car owners: Farmers, Travelers and now GEICO all offer fiver percent discount to policyholders.

    I'm delighted to see that more insurance companies now offer these types of incentives to their policyholders," acting Insurance Commissioner Randy Rohrbaugh said. "This is just one more way to reward Pennsylvanians who are making energy efficient decisions.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Midsize Van Owners to Hybrid Car Owners?

    According to the Power Information Network (PIN) (report, pdf), a division of J.D. Power and Associates, midsize van owners are deserting their segment in large numbers. Sales are down 22% from last May, and the segment is down to 4.9% overall.

    Where are those owners going?

    Surprisingly, the segment that has seen the greatest increase in attracting midsize van owners is the Compact Conventional Car segment; currently, more than 1 of every 10 midsize van owners trades to a small car. The three compact conventional cars that appealed most to midsize owners in May were the Prius (the percent moving to a Prius tripled), the Corolla and the Civic (the percent moving to each of these more than doubled).

    Ford and GM are also abandoning the midsize van segment, focusing more on crossovers.

    To say this is surprising to me would be an understatement. Moving out of a van and into a compact is a huge change up. I wonder if that would be true if there were more hybrid vans available? Is it all about the gas mileage? Or is this just part of the larger shift from large to small.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    MSN Cars Review of the Toyota Prius

    Ever wonder what the Prius is really like? Wouldn't you like to hear all about it from a man with an English accent?

    It's always scary to watch the cars go by on the wrong side of the road! ;-)

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Why You Need to Avoid Drafting Just to Hypermile

    The ATA released a press release on why you should avoid drafting trucks just to up your fuel economy. As the guys from mythbusters tell you, this is just suicidal. I couldn't have said it any better than that.

    Here's the press release from the people who would know how dangerous a practice this is:

    The American Trucking Associations is urging automobile drivers to avoid the dangerous practice of tailgating heavy trucks in efforts to increase fuel economy. The nation's largest trucking industry trade group also is advising fleet safety directors to warn their drivers and owner-operators about the resurgence of this dangerous practice among automobile drivers, known as "drafting."

    "Drafting" involves driving a car very close behind a truck to use the reduction of wind resistance to reduce the amount of energy needed to propel the auto.

    "Few driving behaviors are more dangerous on our highways than drafting," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "Drivers who practice this unsafe behavior are often out of the field of vision of the truck driver and are unable to see around the truck. 'Drafting' is unsafe, illegal and significantly increases the chances of injury and death. This practice compromises the safety of everyone on the nation's highways and must not be considered a viable means of extending fuel mileage."

    ATA recently learned that drafting is being promoted by two websites dedicated to "hypermiling" and several recent news articles have described the hazardous fad. Hypermiling is an invented term for achieving high fuel economy by several means, including dangerous ones such as driving partly on the right shoulder, over-inflating tires, coasting with the ignition off and "drafting" behind tractor-trailers. Unfortunately, a segment about drafting shown recently on the Discovery Channel show "Mythbusters" is bound to prompt some drivers to try this stunt, which the show's hosts called "suicidal." ATA is working to educate the public on safe following distances through its Share the Road safety program.

    "While drivers everywhere are feeling pinched by the high price of gasoline, safety should never come at the expense of fuel efficiency," said John Hill, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator. "FMCSA works closely with states and industry to educate consumers about large truck safety, and to target passenger vehicles that drive dangerously around commercial vehicles - including extreme tailgating, called 'drafting.' 'Hypermilers,' and others who embrace such reckless tactics, must consider their safety and those with whom they share the road,
    especially if a truck had to brake suddenly. These highly unsafe driving behaviors must be avoided by all motorists."

    Stephen Campbell, Executive Director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said, "There are far too many crashes involving cars and trucks where following too closely is identified as a contributing factor. If motorists are 'drafting' the truck driver more than likely cannot see them. Enforcement officers are on the lookout for, and will take action on, these unsafe and dangerous driving behaviors by 4-wheelers around trucks."

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    What Everybody Ought to Know About the New EPA Ratings and Hybrid Cars

    I've recently seen a spate of articles on how the real world calculations on mpg from the EPA is reflecting poorly on hybrid cars. (List of the new EPA MPG for Hybrid Cars) There's been everything from the "See, See!, I told you hybrids are a scam!" to conspiracy theories on how Toyota was trying to game the system, while Ford wasn't.

    The Truth About The Change in the EPA
    The truth is less fuel efficient cars are the ones that should be suffering the most from the consumers viewpoint. You see, it's a problem of scale. For instance, let's look at a reduction of 20% in the mpg ratings. 20% means different things depending on where you are on the scale.

    Why? Let's look at the numbers.

    Hypothetical Car vs the Prius
    Let's assume your car has gone from 20 mpg to 16 mpg according to the EPA. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, you will need 188 more gallons a year to fuel your car. And at the current price of $3/gallon (if you're lucky), that's a difference of $562.50. The Prius rating has gone from 60 to 48 mpg (highway mpg). Which means you will need to buy only 63 more gallons per year. At current prices that's $187.50 dollars a year over 15,000.

    Another way of looking at it: If your tank holds 15 gallons, you will need to fill up 12.5 more times. If you drove the Prius, you would only need to stop 4.2 more times. :-)

    Clearly the difference in mpg for the Prius is less significant than for the hypothetical vehicle getting 20 mpg.

    You might point out, quite legitimately, that most cars had their ratings dropped 8 to 30%, and here I'm using 20%. Aside: The Prius went from 60 to 48 mpg highway, which is why I chose those numbers. If you run the numbers for a gas only car that went from 20 mpg to 18 mpg, a 10% change, that's an added fuel cost of $250 a year. The Prius is still winning out.

    Next Time You Shop For a New Car
    You might want to keep this in mind the next time you buy a car. Let's say you're trying to decide between a car that gets 15 mpg and 20 mpg. That's a huge change. You will save 250 gallons ($750) a year. But if you are trying to decide between a car that gets 45 and 50 mpg, that's a difference of only 33 gallons (or $100) a year.

    MPG +5 Gallons Saved/ 15K Miles Fuel Savings ($3/Gallon) Over 5 Years
    10 15 500 $ 1,500.00 $7,500.00
    15 20 250 $ 750.00 $3,750.00
    20 25 150 $ 450.00 $2,250.00
    25 30 100 $ 300.00 $1,500.00
    30 35 71 $ 214.29 $1,071.43
    35 40 54 $ 160.71 $ 803.57
    40 45 42 $ 125.00 $ 625.00
    45 50 33 $ 100.00 $ 500.00
    50 55 27 $ 81.82 $ 409.09
    55 60 23 $ 68.18 $ 340.91

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Toyota Hits One Million Hybrids Sold

    In the month of May, Toyota sold its one millionth hybrid worldwide. Over half of the hybrids sold have been in the US, while nearly 345,000 hybrids were sold in Japan. The Toyota Prius, their first and best selling hybrid, has sold over 750 thousand units since 1997 when it was released in Japan.

    It took about eight years to sell 500,000 hybrids, but only two more to sell the next 500,000. Toyota hopes to sell one million hybrid cars a year by 2010.

    From the press release from Toyota:

    According to a recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), hybrid vehicles have saved close to 215 million gallons, or 5.1 million barrels, of fuel in the U.S. since their introduction in 1999. As the market share leader in the hybrid segment, Toyota accounted for 66 percent of all hybrids sold in America during that period.

    Toyota and Lexus have five models on sale in the US, with one more coming this summer. They currently sell the previously mentioned Prius, as well as hybrid versions of the Camry and Highlander. Lexus carries the GS 450h and the RX 400h, with the LS 600h on its way.

    One other note from the Press Release:
    Also significant to buyers who may base their next purchase on
    environmental priorities are the results of recent lifecycle assessment
    studies of hybrid vehicles. A variety of studies, including one from the
    Argonne National Laboratory, have concluded that the total lifetime energy
    use of hybrid vehicles -- from development, through production, through
    on-highway use, to end-of-life recycling and landfill -- is significantly
    lower than conventional vehicles.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Mercedes S-Class Hybrid in 2009

    Autoblog is reporting the Mercededes S-Class hybrid, due out as a 2009 model, will come with a 2.2l Bluetec diesel with a mild hybrid engine. This mild system will assist the S-Class in getting over 200hp while still delivering a combined 36 mpg.

    The S-Class hybrid will come with luxury, power and fuel economy. But what's the price tag going to look like? We'll find out more when the S-Class debuts at Franfurt.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Toyota in Trouble Again For Advertising in the UK

    Toyota was recently warned for misrepresenting the RX400h and its emissions in the UK. And now they've gotten in trouble again for misrepresenting the Prius.

    Just a few weeks ago, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK warned Toyota for misrepresenting the RX400h. Toyota was touting the following tagline: "HIGH PERFORMANCE. LOW EMISSIONS. ZERO GUILT." But, the ASA pointed out the average car in the Europe emits less than 160 g/km, while the RX400h emits 192 g/km. Toyota says, in its class, the RX400h has low emissions, which is true. But the ASA still didn't like it.

    And now, Toyota is in trouble again for advertising the Prius. This time, Toyota wanted the viewing public to know the Prius emitted up to a tonne of CO2 less a year than the an equivalent family car with a diesel engine. But the ASA points out Toyota was using the 12,430-mile standard from the US, not the UK. In the UK, they only average 8,340-miles a year.

    Toyota said it had qualified the claim by saying the Prius CO2 emissions were 'up to' one tonne less a year. The ASA agreed the Prius emitted significantly less CO2 than some other cars with greater engine capacity, but "we did not consider their evidence demonstrated that it emitted one tonne less than equivalent vehicles with diesel engines or that it took into account the average annual distance driven by private cars in the UK."

    Here's the ad care of youtube. Thanks to ABG for finding it.

    Toyota was ordered not to broadcast the Prius advertisement again the same form.

    Source: Guardian Unlimited

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    States Blocked From Imposing Auto Emissions Rules in Latest Proposal

    The new bill (I've seen the draft attributed to two different Reps: Rep Rick Boucher, D-Va or Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn) regarding greenhouse gas emission reductions on capitol hill has undergone even further changes. The latest twist: take the decisions out of the states hands and leave it with the EPA.

    The latest draft bill would prohibit the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing a waiver to states allowing them to impose their own auto pollution standards.

    Calfornia has been fighting to impose its own emissions laws on automakers. They want to reduce CO2 by 25% for cars and 18% for SUVs for the 2009 model year. Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont have all stated they would follow suit if California wins. For obvious reasons, automakers have been fighting back.

    Other provisions included in the bill:
    - Expansion of alternative fuels to 35 billion gallons a year by 2025.
    - 36 miles per gallon for passenger cars by 2021 and 30 mpg for trucks by 2024. It also calls for the Transportation Department to set the "maximum feasible" level starting in September 2011.
    - 45 percent of their fleet flexible-fuel capable by the 2012 model year. 85 percent of the fleet must be capable of running on ethanol blends by 2020.
    - Federal loan guarantees to automakers for advanced battery research
    - Grant program for Detroit automakers to retool factories to build advanced vehicles. The measure gives priority to plants that have or will cease operations soon.
    - $1 billion for cellulosic ethanol research and incentives to get more flexible fuel pumps in place.

    Sources: Bill would block states on auto rules - Yahoo! News and Fuel economy hike backed

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    Hybrid Car Sales, May 2007

    Hybrid Car Sales May 2007Hybrid car sales rocketed upwards, with an increase of 91.5% from last May in the US. In total, 45,095 units were sold. Note that this total does not include GM hybrids like the Vue and Aura, which are mild hybrids. Since GM does not break out hybrid numbers, it makes it very hard to find them.

    Half of the hybrids sold in May were Prius, allowing Toyota to corner over 80 percent of the hybrid marketplace. Altogether, Toyota increased hybrid car sales by 110% over last May. Ford (12% gain from last May), Honda (42% gain from last May) and Nissan also saw huge gains in overall hybrid car sales this month. The huge sales increases may be attributed to higher gas prices and aggressive sales pitches, especially on the part of Toyota, to sell hybrids.

    Toyota Hybrid Car Sales
    The Camry set new records as well by increasing sales 126.0% to 6,853 unitsAs I previously noted, Toyota sold a record number of hybrid cars. In total, Toyota sold 36,101 units. The Prius alone sold 24,009 units, an increase of 196.3% from last May.. Highlander Hybrid sales were down 11.8% to 3,312 units sold. Both Lexus models were also down. Lexus sold 181 units of the GS 450h and 1,746 units of the RX 400h, a decrease of 38.4% and 13.0% respectively.

    Percent Hybrid Car Sales May 2007Honda Hybrid Car Sales
    Honda took 11.0% of the hybrid marketplace, selling 4,959 units. Most of their sales came from the Civic Hybrid, which increased sales by 56.4% to 4,520 units sold. That placed it third in hybrid car sales behind the Prius and the Camry Hybrid. The V-6 Accord Hybrid sold 439 units, a decrease of 15.6%. Note: Honda has decided to end production of the Accord Hybrid given its lackluster sales.

    Nissan Hybrid Car Sales
    Nissan sold 821 units of the Nissan Altima Hybrid. On sale since February, this figure represents its highest sales month so far. The Altima Hybrid is only sold in eight states that follow the California emissions guidelines.

    Ford Hybrid Car Sales
    Ford had a record month, showing double digit growth. Ford increased sales by 12.3% from last May to 3,214 units on its Ford Escape Hybrid / Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

    May to May Hybrid Car SalesTrends Are Not All Good
    Not all hybrid car sales are good. Hybrid SUV sales, despite Fords double digit increases on their hybrid SUV combo, are down over four percent. Also, the Honda Accord Hybrid sales have continued to be sluggish and Honda has decided to pull the plug. Both of these indicators show consumers are looking for fuel economy from their hybrid, not performance.

    Hybrid Car Sales, April 2007

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Honda Accord Hybrid to End

    Not surprisingly, Honda has decided to end the run of the Honda Accord Hybrid. Built for performance, not for fuel economy, the Accord hybrid sales have suffered mightily since its strong debut.

    The Accord Hybrid was introduced in December, 2004 in the US. After selling over 16,330 thousand units through October, 2005, with the highlight occuring in September, 2005 when Honda sold 2,352 units. Since then, Honda has managed to sell only half that number (8,857). The Accord hybrid never again broke the 1,000 units sold, with year to year comparisons showing a decrease every single month.

    With the Accord Hybrid ending its production, that leaves Honda with just the Civic Hybrid. Honda is currently developing another subcompact hybrid model.

    This is only the second hybrid car to be retired, the only other one being the Honda Insight. The Insight, although it was first to the US market, never took off in popularity. Despite its remarkable fuel economy numbers, being a two-seater limited its capabilities for the average US driver.

    The Accord may come with a clean diesel engine that is slated to be introduced in 2009.

    Source: Honda opts not to produce hybrid version of new Accord - report -

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Hybrid Car Sales Double in the UK

    UK hybrid sales have taken off lately. The London Congestion Zone and the green aspects of driving hybrids have pushed hybrid car sales in the UK to double what they were last year.

    Sales of hybrid cars have gone from 3,117 to 6,568 units in the last year. Honda sold 604 Civic Hybrids in May, which brought their year-to-date total up to 1,136. That seems to indicate something special happened in May, but I'm not sure what. It could be the recent changes in the size of the congestion zone.

    Source: Sales Of Green 'Hybrid' Cars Double In 1 Year - UK News Headlines

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Toyota Hits New Record with Hybrid Car Sales

    "As for hybrids, the market's appetite continues unabated, with Prius also establishing an all-time record," said Jim Lentz, TMS executive vice president.

    Toyota set an all time high in hybrid car sales in the month of May. Under the brand of Toyota and Lexus, they increased sales by 102 percent over last May, selling 36,101 hybrid vehicles. Toyota Division increased sales by 121 percent from last year. That brings their total year-to-date hybrid sales up to 119,154 units, an increase of 75 percent over the same period last year.

    Some of that increase is from the addition of the Toyota Camry Hybrid last April, but not all. The Prius set an all time high record of 24,009 units sold in May, which is an increase of 196.3% from last May. The Toyota Camry Hybrid also set an all time record of 6,853 units sold, which is an increase of 126.0% from last year.

    Ford, the only other automaker who has reported on hybrid sales so far, also hit double digit growth, selling 3,214 units of its Hybrid Escape and Mercury Mariner. That's an increase of 12.3% over last year.

    I expect I'll have all the numbers in by next week, so look for my usual hybrid car sales report for the month of May around then.

    Update: The Toyota Prius moved into ninth place among all vehicles for the month and cracking the list of 10 top sellers for the first time, the company said.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Interest in Hybrid Cars is Surging

    According to, hybrid car interest has surged in the month of May. Most likely related to the high cost of gas, the Camry Hybrid, Escape Hybrid and Prius have hit the top of the list in search activity on

    Search numbers for those three hybrids increased over 52 percent from April. At the same time, the Prius entered the top 10 list for new cars with the most searches. It also ranks second in e-mail inquiries to dealers.

    At the same time, seven of the top 10 in largest decreases were SUVs or trucks.

    "The more that gas prices rise, the more consumers start doing their
    homework on fuel-efficient cars available on the market," said Patrick
    Olsen, managing editor of "Fortunately, there are more hybrid
    models to choose from in 2007 and more coming in 2008, including eight
    hybrid SUVs."

    Top New-Car Searches (May)

    1 Honda Civic
    2 Toyota Camry
    3 Honda Accord
    4 Nissan Altima
    5 Acura MDX
    6 Toyota Prius
    7 Ford Mustang
    8 Toyota Corolla
    9 Honda CR-V
    10 Toyota RAV4

    New Cars With Largest Increases in Searches (May)

    1 Toyota Camry Hybrid 60 %
    2 Ford Escape Hybrid 55 %
    3 Toyota Prius 52 %
    4 Nissan Sentra 33 %
    5 Volkswagen Jetta 29 %
    6 Toyota Yaris 27 %
    7 Volkswagen Beetle 27 %
    8 Honda Fit 25 %
    9 Mazda3 22 %
    10 Toyota Highlander 22 %

    New Cars With Largest Decreases in Searches (May)

    1 Toyota FJ Cruiser 23 %
    2 Infiniti FX35 19 %
    3 Chevrolet Tahoe 17 %
    4 Toyota Tundra 17 %
    5 BMW X5 12 %
    6 Dodge Ram 10 %
    7 Chevrolet Impala 10 %
    8 Chrysler 300 9 %
    9 Dodge Charger 8 %
    10 Chevrolet Silverado 7 %

    Email Leads Sent to Dealers (May)

    1 Honda Civic
    2 Toyota Prius
    3 Toyota Camry
    4 Honda CR-V
    5 Toyota Corolla
    6 Toyota RAV4
    7 Honda Accord
    8 Honda Odyssey
    9 Toyota Sienna
    10 Nissan Altima

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Toyota Patent Infringement Continues

    Solomon Technologies announced they will appeal the decision made by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). Solomon Technologies is suing for patent infringement on their technology which they claim is being used in Hybrid Synergy Drive from Toyota.

    They decision went against them back in April that Toyota had not been in violation. Solomon has decided to appeal that decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

    If Solomon were to win their appeal, the ruling could affect all the Prius and Highlander Hybrid vehicles. The motor and transmission would be banned from being imported into the U.S.

    Since there is a lot of legalese in it that I couldn't interpret, the Press Release from Solomon Technologies follows:

    TARPON SPRINGS, Fla., June 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Solomon Technologies, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: SOLM) announced today that it will appeal the final determination of the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) regarding Solomon's claim of patent infringement against Toyota Motor Corporation, and certain of its affiliates, to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in Washington, DC. The Commission ruled, on April 30, 2007, that there was no violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended.

    "We were clearly surprised by the initial determination by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and, after careful consideration, we have concluded that there were serious errors made in interpreting the pertinent patent law and precedents in this case leaving us no option but to appeal the case to a court with particular expertise in this field." said Gary G. Brandt, Chief Executive Officer of Solomon. "The CAFC is the primary court in the United States which hears appeals of patent cases from the lower district courts or from the ITC. We strongly believe that a proper interpretation of the law, and precedents of the Appeals Court, will result in a reversal of the most critical aspects of the ALJ's decision."

    Mr. Brandt continued, "As those who have followed this case closely know, we determined some time ago that the ITC venue would provide a more streamlined path to resolving this matter. Because the ITC is not a judicial court, however, its findings are not binding on any other courts to which Solomon might bring the case in the future. We believe that the CAFC is the appropriate forum by which to establish the proper interpretation of our patent claims and to provide us with future options to pursue full and fair remedies at either the ITC or the Federal Court in Florida."

    As previously announced Solomon brought suit against Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on September 12, 2005, claiming infringement of Solomon's U.S. Patent Number 5,067,932, primarily relating to Toyota's use of the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology in its Prius and Highlander Hybrid vehicles. On January 11, 2006, Solomon filed an additional complaint against Toyota with the ITC seeking to exclude importation of the infringing technology. The action against Toyota and its affiliates in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, has been stayed pending resolution of the ITC action.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Automakers Want Out of New Fuel Economy Bill

    The new Senate bill on fuel economy standards being discussed has caused a lot of controversy for the automakers. They don't want it to happen and are starting an ad campaign against it. At the same time, they are doing all they can to make sure even if it does pass, it won't be as stringent as it could be. At the same time, environmentalists are working to make sure it is as stringent as it can be, without any 'off-ramps' for the various automakers to slip through.

    As it is, the current bill wants to raise fleetwide averages to 35 mpg by 2020, by raising standards four percent each year within the framework of the current CAFE standards. Current standards are set at 27.5 for cars and 22.2 for trucks.

    One alternative currently making the rounds (courtesy of Sen Carl Levin, D-Mich) calls for a little bit less. In this draft, the rules would be set at 36 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for trucks.

    But, automakers could avoid standards altogether if they could show they were building vehicles with better fuel economy and lower emissions. Which sounds to me like they are trying to say, 'hey, we built them... it's not our fault if nobody buys them.'

    But even the current bill has its own opt out for automakers. If federal regulators find the standards are technologically or economically too tough for the industry to meet, they are allowed to lower those standards.

    Source: Automakers consider backing alternative to fuel economy bill - Automotive News (reg required)

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Hybrid Market Share Continues to Increase

    According to the most recent Power Information Network (PIN) Insights (pdf), hybrid market penetration is once again reaching record levels. Through the first 20 days of May, 3.4% of all retail transactions were hybrids. With 12 hybrid models on the market, hybrid car penetration has continued to increase each year.

    Percentage Hybrid Retail Sales Number of Hybrids
    May-04 0.40% 3
    May-05 1.30% 6
    May-06 1.90% 10
    May 1-20, 2006 2.10% 10
    May 1-20, 2007 3.40% 12
    Source: Power Information Network (PIN)

    Higher gas prices and federal tax breaks, as well as an aggressive marketing campaign from Toyota have kept hybrid car sales increasing each year. Despite the increase in the number of hybrid models available, almost half of those sold are Prius, while almost three quarters are Toyota/Lexus.

    Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at

    Automotive Parts

    E-Bay Motors


      © Link to Privacy Policy

    Back to TOP